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The 7 Best Lakes in Virginia for a Relaxing Getaway

Virginia is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the United States, perfect for a relaxing getaway. Whether you’re looking to swim, fish, paddleboard, or simply soak in the natural beauty, Virginia’s lakes offer something for everyone. Let’s explore the seven best lakes in Virginia that promise an unforgettable escape.

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Claytor Lake

Not only can you swim, fish, and jet ski on Claytor Lake’s 4,500 acres of water, but it’s also a location ripe with education. The State Park’s historic Howe House offers interactive exhibits detailing the region’s wildlife and ecology of the lake. You can explore numerous trails, beaches, and waterfront cabins, and try paddleboarding. The scenic surroundings make Claytor Lake an excellent spot for a family vacation or a quiet retreat.

Douthat Lake

Although Douthat Lake doesn’t allow gas-powered boats, there are plenty of other activities such as paddleboating, kayaking, and sailing. This 50-acre lake within Douthat State Park in Millboro is stocked for fishing, with pickerel, trout, crappie, and largemouth bass. The park itself is a haven for nature lovers, offering over 40 miles of hiking trails through lush forests. Douthat Lake is perfect for those who appreciate a tranquil, boat-free environment.

Hungry Mother Lake

Situated in Hungry Mother State Park, this lake doesn’t allow gas-powered boats but offers ample activities like kayaking, paddleboating, and canoeing. The 108-acre lake also features over 17 miles of biking and hiking trails along the wooded shores. The park is known for its beautiful scenery and serene atmosphere, making it an ideal location for a peaceful getaway. Camping facilities and cozy cabins are available for an overnight stay.

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John H. Kerr Reservoir

Also known as Buggs Island by locals, the John H. Kerr Reservoir in Clarksville is Virginia’s largest lake, boasting 800 miles of shoreline and a 50,000-acre footprint. It’s a renowned spot for crappie fishing, hosting state and national fishing tournaments. The expansive reservoir also supports a variety of water sports, including boating, swimming, and jet skiing. With numerous parks and recreational areas around the lake, it’s a great destination for both relaxation and adventure.

Lake Anna

A popular spot for largemouth bass fishing on the East Coast, Lake Anna attracts anglers year-round. With over 200 miles of shoreline, visitors can spend the day in a cove or rent paddleboards, canoes, or kayaks to explore. For adrenaline seekers, wakeboarding, water skiing, or tubing behind a boat are thrilling options. The lake’s state park offers campgrounds, hiking trails, and picnic areas, making it a versatile spot for outdoor enthusiasts.

Lake Fairfax

Perfect for a family day out, Lake Fairfax in Northern Virginia is an urban lake covering just 18 acres. Visitors can take guided boat rides, rent pedal boats, or fish from the shoreline, which is well-stocked with trout. Children will love the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole, a water park featuring slides, flumes, and sprays. With picnic areas and trails for hiking and biking, Lake Fairfax offers a little bit of everything for a fun-filled day.

Lake Gaston

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Virginia, Lake Gaston covers over 20,000 acres with open waterways ideal for high-energy sports like water skiing. Quieter areas are perfect for paddleboarding, sailing, and canoeing. Holly Grove Marina offers rentals for pontoons and kayaks, making it easy to get out on the water. The lake’s numerous coves and inlets provide plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, and simply enjoying the natural beauty.